Clinical trial operations will continue in Israel during the declared war, due to preparations in place by the Ministry of Health (IMOH), a CEO of a drug development company has said.

Mati Gill, CEO of AION labs based in Tel Aviv, an innovation lab for artificial intelligence in drug discovery and development that works with sponsors including AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Merck, said that due to the country having contingency plans in place, it will be able to continue all clinical trial operations during the war.

“The main guidance is very central as it comes from the Israeli Ministry of Health,” Gill said. “They provide guidance to all the hospitals with regards to any changes needed in the protocols for having clinical trials and then each hospital has their own internal guidelines with regards to how to conduct clinical research.”

This comes as the death toll hits 1,200 since the surprise attack on 7 October when Hamas launched at attack on Israel, including those at a music festival, killing 260 people.

Gill noted that the country is well prepared to keep its research programmes operating due to the high levels of conflict it has seen during its history. As a result, the country can quickly adapt trial design, including moving to decentralisation if required.

Gill continued: “We have a lot of experience and the Ministry of Health has really taken a very bold initiative to be able to maintain clinical research while dealing with times of crisis. We have an excellent medical system and healthcare system, one of the best in the world, not just in times of crisis, but also in times of routine. We are an attractive place for clinical research for multiple reasons.”

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When Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, most clinical trial operations stopped or were suspended. In the nearly two years since, very few sponsors have looked to initiate trials in the country due to the conflict.

The IMOH oversees the regulation and approval of clinical trials in the country and has implemented streamlined processes to ensure efficient review and approval timelines. Clinical trials are actively supported and encouraged through various initiatives and incentives including financial support and grants.

According to GlobalData’s Pharmaceutical Intelligence Centre, there are 1,420 planned and ongoing clinical trials in Israel, of which 584 are in Phase III (41.13%), 388 in Phase II (27.32%) and 104 in Phase I (7.32%).

GlobalData also reports that the Israeli healthcare system was worth $2.4bn in 2018 with the market value predicted to grow further to reach $3.2bn in 2027, with the majority of the finances from health technology, research and development, and the advancement of medical infrastructure.

GlobalData is the parent company of Clinical Trials Arena.